Friday, May 22, 2015

A Unique Piece of Doug Henning's Magic

The illusion above is a Disembodied Princess created for Doug Henning's touring show by Jim Steinmeyer. It was called 'Seeing Through Surrounded' and was the last illusion designed for Doug Henning.

The very first prop of this kind was created by P.T. Selbit and was called The Man Without a Middle. His version was quite different from what many are used to. In the Selbit version, the entire middle section of the box is removed leaving the head section to be held up by two poles.

The next version to come along was created by Carl Owen when he worked for Thayers. He called his version 'The Disembodied Princess' and his version was a vast improvement on the original because the methodology was simplified. In the Carl Owen version, the top door would show the girls head, her legs could be seen in the two sections below. Two large blades would pass through her neck and waist and then the middle box was opened to show that part of her body was gone, even though the legs and head could still be seen.

In the book, P.T. Selbit Magical Innovator, the authors Eric Lewis and Peter Warlock comment that if Selbit had never created The Man Without a Middle Illusion, then Robert Harbin would never have developed his Zig Zag Lady. The Zig Zag was Harbin's way of creating a similar effect with even more advancements.

Getting back to the Doug Henning prop, this was developed because Doug was appearing in a number of 'Theatres in the Round' and they were unable to do the standard Disembodied Princess due to site issues. So 'Seeing Through Surrounded' was built to allow a view of the prop from any angle. A full description of the prop along with it's inner workings appeared in a small booklet called Square One put out by Stan Allen of MAGIC Magazine.

I had read Square One and was instantly fascinated by the line drawings of this prop but was never fortunate enough to see it in action. Imagine my surprise while visiting a Science Museum in Tampa Florida to come upon a large touring feature called The Magic of Science, and among the items on display was this prop once owned by Doug Henning.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Eerie Ghost Image-Is It Houdini?

Several weeks ago I posted the above image from Andrew Basso that was taken at the location of Wm. R. Hamilton's Funeral Home on 3957 Cass St. in Detroit MI. This is where Houdini was embalmed. The photo at the top of the page shows Andrew in front of the Funeral Home. Andrew by the way, is currently touring with the show The Illusionists.

But now it's been discovered there was a ghostly image in the photo all along. It just took a while to discover it. I must admit it's pretty freaky. I don't think it's Houdini. To me it looks more like Edgar Allan Poe. What do you think?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

10 Legendary Magicians LINK

This is a link to a very interesting article on 10 Legendary Magicians You've Probably Never Heard About. It's a strikingly good list to be honest. I can't help but wonder if the writer has some knowledge of magic history. No sources are listed where he got the information. And sadly, there some bad choices for photos. The Robert Heller photo is NOT Robert Heller the magician. The DeKolta photo is also a stock image, not the real magician. But other than that, it's an interesting choice of people. I'm personally glad that Robert Heller made the list. I'm also kind of saddened that Doug Henning, Howard Thurston and Harry Kellar made the list. They deserve to be on the list, don't get me wrong, but the fact that they are not remembered by the public today is unfortunate.

I'm curious what your list might have been? I probably would have swapped Pinetti for Hofzinser, and combined Adelaide with Alexander Herrmann so that I could include Signor Blitz. I really don't think I would have put Doug Henning on the list though because he is too modern and I do think despite the fact he is not a major celebrity, a lot of people today still know of him. So that would have left one spot......hmmmm Blackstone? No, that name still is remembered thanks to his son. Probably, Dante.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mystery Photo of Houdini

I don't recall seeing this photo before, though maybe some of you have. I know where it's from and I do have an additional photo to go with it. Just wondering if anyone else can identify it? I did so poorly on my first attempt trying to stump you all. If you have an idea, put it in the comments below.

The above photo comes from Oakland California. The site is the Tribune Tower which was still under construction at the time. The year was 1923 and Houdini hung from the unfinished 9th story of the building. 40 years later another escape artist would duplicate the same escape from this same location effectively beginning his career in escapes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Houdini Landmark Is This?

Here is a mystery photo. I'm curious to see if anyone can figure out what site this is and why it's important to the overall Houdini story? Just post your guesses in the comments section. Good Luck!